Perhaps known as a major flavour of the French classic…
Here’s a very simple preparation for eggplant, and there’s really no recipe. Please try it. Chances are you’ll like the rich, creaminess that results over against the crisp, caramelized nuttiness of the browned bits.
Take an eggplant and wash it. Trim off the ends. Slicing vertically, trim off a bit of the skin — in a sort of “striping” fashion along its length so it sort of looks like a zebra. (You don’t, of course, need to take this culinary Equidae step.)
Next, cut the eggplant into disks about one-quarter inch (I dunno, one-half centimetre?) or however thick you like — this will in part determine how long the disks need to cook. You don’t need to do this next step, but I did: I spread out the disks on a baking sheet lined with kitchen towels and salt both sides, covered and let them sit for about 20 minutes to remove some water. Brush off excess salt.
Set up a Holy Trinity Breading Station: flour (I used corn starch), a beaten egg (I used one egg and a bit of water), and some bread crumbs (seasoned as you like). Bread your zebra eggplant in the flour, egg and bread crumb. Pat individual pieces gently to set the breading. You can make this as little or as dense as you like.
Let the disks rest while your veg oil heats up. Use a heavy black cast-iron pan (not a Teflon thing) for best results in attaining a crispy, slightly charred cooking.
Place the zebra eggplant disks — but don’t crowd them; you may have to do a couple of batches — into the medium-hot pan. Don’t move them! Let them fry and brown up. Turn them when they have reached the brown-charred stage you like and cook the other side. Between batches, I wiped out the pan and added fresh oil and brought it back up to cooking temperature.
Eat the zebra eggplant with its creamy richness and char — yet slight simple tang — with a good pasta and an nicely simple and acidic tomato gravy. It’s divine.
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